Interfield Dynamics: Law and the Creation of New Organisational Fields in the Nineteenth-century United States

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This article draws on the concept of ‘strategic action fields’ to examine the interaction of law and organisations in the nineteenth-century United States. Focusing on the emergence of savings banking, it analyses how new legal rules were created to define the actors, actions and relationships that constituted the organisational field. The article develops three conceptual claims about the dynamics of institutional contexts: (a) the configuration of state fields shaped the nature and timing of legal rule making vis-à-vis organisational fields; (b) state actors engaged in ‘inter-field framing’ by applying analogies from the legal field to define social order in the organisational one; and (c) the legal and organisational fields were mutually constituted through these interactions. The article concludes by elaborating on the broader value of the theory of fields in business history.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)628-654
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Institutional change
  • Theory of fields
  • Strategic action fields
  • Organisational fields
  • Legal fields
  • Field frames
  • Emergence
  • Savings banks
  • Corporate law

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